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Last Updated: Friday, 22 December 2006, 12:19 GMT
Strike causes train cancellations
Central Trains
The operator said it cannot offer any more money
No Central Trains services will run on three days over Christmas because of a strike by senior conductors over pay.

Talks to try to stop the industrial action on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day have broken down.

The operator has made an increased offer on top of double time but the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' union (RMT) said it was not enough.

Planned strikes on the same dates by Midland Mainline staff have been called off, the rail firm said.

'Holding out'

Central Trains conductors said they were striking over the "imposition of centralised rostering and Christmas and New Year pay arrangements".

The firm is the main operator in the West Midlands and stretches to Norwich, Liverpool, Cardiff and Doncaster.

A spokesman said all other staff had accepted the offer of double time but the conductors were "determined to hold out for a lot more money".

The company could not offer any more than the 236 that had already been put forward, the spokesman added.

Ken Usher, spokesman for the RMT union, told BBC News he believed Central Trains had already decided to shut the network down and accused the operator of being economical with the truth.

'Passengers paying price'

"They need approval from the government to shut the network and they just said that straight away, they didn't go away and come back to us.

"Tens of thousands of people will be affected by the closure.

"We are available for discussions but they have to talk as well - they are being economical with the truth and that's being kind."

Central Trains managing director Steve Banaghan said: "We have tried our best to reach agreement with the RMT senior conductor negotiators but they are determined to hold out for a lot more money for working this Christmas.

"Given that all other staff, including other parts of the RMT, have already accepted our offer we cannot offer any more money.

"Without senior conductors we can't run a train service, so this means that passengers will be paying the price at one of the busiest times of year for travel."

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